Preparing the Girls for the Big Move: The decision to uproot our lives and relocate to Spain was not made overnight. We took the time to explain the move to our daughters well in advance. The goal was to normalize the idea, allowing the girls to process and discuss any concerns or questions they might have had. Looking back, we both reflect that it was challenging for the girls to grasp the full scope of the adventure awaiting them.
Language Transition: Bryn and Scout had exposure to the language through Spanish immersion classes at our US school. Still, we planned our trip to arrive in August, before the school year started, to help familiarize ourselves and the girls with our new surroundings. We enrolled the girls into a local language school, Castilla, to help them in the transition to learning in the Spanish school system and provide them with a confidence boost.
Choosing the Right School: Relocating in the historic Albayzin in Granada, we were looking for a school that would offer a different experience from American education. We opted for total immersion in a local community, wanting to let the girls experience Spanish traditions and teaching methods. To be within walking distance of the family house was an essential aspect in making a final decision.
We’re grateful we hired the “Your Year In Spain” team for all aspects of our move. Regarding the children, we had detailed discussions about their hopes and aspirations. YYIS identified Colegio Ave Maria as a school that met our requirements, ensuring the best educational fit.
The First Day of School: The first day at school, we received a warm welcome from the counselor. We were reassured that the experience would be positive, nurturing, and, above all fun. We loved the schools’ more traditional methods, including limiting the use of iPads in class and instead focusing on a more interactive environment, which produced a positive experience for everyone. This is not to say that the school did not utilize technology. Instead, the girls had designated days to bring iPads, etc, and use them for specific research tasks.
The girls eagerly anticipated their first day of school, which coincided with a festive welcome. Scout enjoyed a “Welcome to the Party” atmosphere, complete with school decorations with an air of celebrating the beginning of a new academic year. The overall experience for both girls was overwhelmingly positive.
Adapting to a New Culture: A basic understanding of the language was advantageous. However, adapting to the pace at which the teachers were talking took some time for the girls as they adjusted to their new environment. The class’s interactive environment was very different to what they were used to and took a bit of getting used to, but the children took it all in their stride.
Embracing Independence: We no longer rely on a car, enhancing the girls’ sense of autonomy. This liberating experience has not only allowed them to walk freely but also gain a sense of confidence and newfound independence as they explore the historic charm and allure of this picturesque Spanish neighborhood. They now embrace the freedom to wander through the neighborhood to buy pastries from the local panaderia.
As parents, we have great joy seeing the girls happy and secure, fostering a strong sense of confidence in this charming town they now call home.
Thriving in Spain and Transformative Changes: Our decision to enroll the girls in local soccer and basketball teams has played a pivotal role in their integration into Spanish culture. These activities have provided a physical outlet and served as a bridge, connecting them to the local community and making friends along the way. Together with their American roots and Spanish traditions, a unique and enriching experience has been created for the girls.
The move to Spain has brought about transformative changes in the girls’ outlook. They now see the world through a different lens. An example is their recent trip to London, where they embraced the entire experience with a positive attitude, navigating new challenges. These experiences have undoubtedly shaped their worldview and instilled in them a resilience that will serve them well in the future.
Staying Connected: Maintaining a connection with home is essential for any expatriate family. We recognized this and provided the children a phone to stay in touch with friends and family.
They eagerly look forward to family visits, emphasizing the importance of maintaining connections with their life back home.
Advice for Others
For families contemplating a year in Spain, our advice is to resist the temptation of talking yourselves out of the unknown and get some help from experts on the ground.
Once you step beyond your comfort zone, life becomes a thrilling journey; take that leap of faith with no regrets. Don’t let reasons dissuade you from embarking on this trip of a lifetime; you will undoubtedly create lasting memories. The supportive presence of Christine from “Your year in Spain” ensured we were never alone; there was always a helping hand or information when needed. We wholeheartedly endorse the experience!